5 Tips for Managing Your Finances in 2021

This monk-turned-money manager offers spiritually-sound advice for getting ahead—even in tough times.

Posted in , Jan 11, 2021

Doug Lyman; Photo credit: GABRIELLA MARKS

Doug Lyman was a Benedictine monk for 20 years before leaving the monastery in 2016. One of the reasons? “The monastery went bankrupt and the stress over money tore us apart,” says Lyman, who read every finance book he got his hands as he attempted to manage the monastery’s failing finances. “We did come out of the bankruptcy, but we never got over the guilt around money; it tore us apart no matter how good and loving everyone was otherwise.”

Today, Lyman is a financial advisor and partner in an investment firm based in New Mexico. While he had taken a vow of poverty at the monastery, Lyman had come to feel differently about money.

“Money isn’t evil,” he says. “Poverty is evil.” He often counsels his clients that changing your beliefs and attitudes about money is an important first step in mastering your finances.

“We need to get out of the dualistic black and white thinking that money is good or money is bad,” he says. “It’s both. Money is simply a spiritual sponge that absorbs the intent of the user.”

Here, Lyman offers five spiritually-sound advice on getting ahead of the game—even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trust in God—but row away from the rocks. Lyman points out that having faith is important, but so is remembering that we have responsibility and free will. “God won’t work a miracle for a problem that you have the power to fix,” he says. “I see a lot of people with a really hard decision in front of them say: ‘I’m going to leave it all to faith.’ Frankly, I think that is sloth masquerading as faith. You’ve got to make sure that you aren’t using God as a scapegoat to avoid your own responsibilities.”

Cultivate gratitude. Lyman suggests coming up with three things you are grateful for each day. “It’s not a magic pill, but it makes a huge difference. Gratitude is the heart of prayer. By appreciating and holding your family and friends close, that’s what’s going to give you the comfort and courage to get through these difficult times. ” Lyman also says that the shaming and blaming around money problems must stop. “When the economy shuts down, there is no shame in losing a job. Gratitude is a way of getting out of the shame and blame cycle.”

The family that budgets together stays together. Make budgeting a team effort, says Lyman, noting that money stress is one of the leading causes of divorce. “You’ve got to make a spending plan,” he says. “Try to have a ‘budgeting date night’ where you work on the budget and then have a reward afterwards—like a movie and wine night.”

Identify your Money Monsters and your Money Angels. This is basically a tally of your financial strengths and weaknesses. “Money angels may be someone who is able to make a good living, or someone who likes to budget. My wife loves to budget. She does all the budgeting, I do all the investing.” Money monsters may be the way you are overspending or gambling or it may be someone who has a lot of fear about money, so avoids dealing with it. “We all have money monsters,” says Lyman. “Know what they are so you can start facing them and working on them.”

Respect the Holy Trinity of Finance: Earning, saving, investing. “These are the three things that we all need to work on to have a secure financial future,” says Lyman. “During the coronavirus crisis, some people may lose a job, so they need to focus on the earning part for a while. But regardless, you should always live below your means and align your investments with your values. Finance can literally be like a foreign language, but you can keep making small steps toward your goals.”

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